Nearly $100 million in crypto assets stolen from Japanese exchange Liquid

abdelaziz Fathi

Hackers breached Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Liquid and extracted more than $90 million in cryptocurrencies on Thursday, the regulated platform announced on Twitter.

All deposits and withdrawals were suspended by Liquid after its wallets have been compromised in the security breach.

The apparent hack emerged at roughly 7:50 AM SGT after Liquid’s technology teams detected unauthorized access to some of their wallets. The exchange added that the stolen cryptocurrencies went missing from a so-called hot wallet, which is connected to the web, but that assets held in cold wallets that are offline were not affected.

The exchange later said it has traced the transfer of the stolen assets and already identified four different wallet addresses that are believed to be associated with the hacker.

Liquid did not disclose the estimated value for the hacked tokens. However, blockchain analytics company Elliptic said the combined value of the stolen tokens, as of today morning, totaled roughly $97 million.

Nearly half of this figure, or $45 million, were tokens converted to the Ethereum blockchain through decentralized exchanges. This enables the attackers to avoid having these assets frozen.

London-based Elliptic also issued another statement hours after the attack, saying it has added the addresses associated to the hack to their system to ensure that their clients will be alerted if they receive any of these funds. The security firm added that its investigators are aiding Liquid with tracking the stolen funds and also working on tracking additional identity clues.

Major crypto exchanges spoke out soon after the massive hack, saying they are watching the flow of coins and will do their best to manage the situation. As a result,  nearly $16.0 million worth of ERC-20 tokens have been frozen thanks the assistance of “the crypto community and other exchanges.”

Liquid said it is currently investigating the nature of the incident, but ‎still unable to know exactly how the hackers managed to gain access to its ‎infrastructure.

Their initial analysis of the hack determined that 69 different crypto assets were misappropriated and sent to other exchanges or Defi swapping venues.

Liquid is a Tokyo headquartered bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange in Japan. The FSA-regulated venue also operates a clearinghouse for fiat-backed stablecoins which facilitates swaps, FX trading, and digital fiat onramps/offramps.

This is the latest hack involving cryptocurrencies, and comes barely a week after hackers stole some $600 million from Poly Network in one the largest cryptocurrency heists ever. In an unusual twist of events, hackers behind the Poly theft have returned more than two thirds of the digital coins they stole.

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